By Jim Sullivan
---- — Most musicians could die happy if they won only one Grammy Award.
Jerry Douglas has won 14 of them. And he is coming to Newburyport to share his talents in a show at City Hall on Saturday night.
“It’s going to be a night of surprises for (the audience) and me,” said Douglas, who is promoting his latest album, “Traveler,” which features collaborations with Paul Simon, Eric Clapton and Mumford & Sons.
“The name was the last thing to figure out,” Douglas said of “Traveler.” “But it wasn’t really hard to figure out after I kind of circled the globe putting it together.”
Known as a master of the Dobro resonator guitar, the Warren, Ohio, native does indeed get around. He has been to Newburyport quite a few times in the past, and the city has left an impression on him.
“My wife and I used to take a lot of vacations,” Douglas said. “We would start out in Gloucester or Marblehead and venture on out all the way up to Newburyport. That’s my favorite place to go.
“I travel quite a bit, and there are not many places that you would want to go back to. But that is one of the more beautiful places in this country. There’s so much history, and it just feels good to be that close to the water. There are so many great things about it.”
Well-known for his recording and performance work with country singer Alison Krauss, Douglas has performed on more than 1,600 albums and collaborated with such well-known and diverse artists as Phish, Johnny Mathis, Elvis Costello and Ray Charles.
Saturday’s show will see him performing a rare solo set in an intimate surrounding.
“I’ll be playing some tunes from ‘Traveler,’ maybe a little singing, whatever strikes me, and conversation: ‘What kind of wine is that you’re drinking?’ Or, ‘Your wife sure is pretty.’ That kind of thing,” Douglas said with a laugh. “I like playing all these songs in a different way and actually getting to have a conversation with the audience instead of just going from song to song. It’s a lot of fun and a little more personable.”
The winner of four Grammys for Best Bluegrass Album, Douglas was also named Musician of the Year three times by the Country Music Association and is a past recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His signature resonating sound has become one of the most-sought-out in the country and roots music business and led to a 15-year period where he would play three recording sessions a day.
Band or no band, change is no obstacle to Douglas.
“I’ll be playing a lot of tunes that they’ve seen me playing with my band before,” Douglas said. “And I’ll be playing some tunes that you can’t really play with a band. I play a lot of solo pieces anyway, and I’ll be doing some of those things. I’ll also be improvising a lot, probably. It’s fun to go out on a limb and saw it off. See where you land.”
New Hampshire native and world-class fiddler Joyce Andersen will open for Douglas and is no stranger to Newburyport herself, having appeared in the past with her husband and guitarist, Harvey Reid. Andersen also opened for Richard and Teddy Thompson when they played here.
If you go
What: Jerry Douglas performs
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Newburyport City Hall auditorium, 60 Pleasant St.
How much: $38. Available online at www.heptunesconcerts.com and in Newburyport at Dyno Records, 1 Middle St., and Ganesh Imports, 33 State St.